Our Policies/The Opportunity Society/
At a glance
PREPARING FOR SUCCESS: The DA’s plan for schools that deliver real opportunity
Documents to Download
- MDU- DA Preparing for Success.pdf (542 kb)
In an Open, Opportunity Society for All, the DA would ensure that every learner has the opportunity to realise his or her full potential through access to a good education.
Within fifteen years of taking power nationally, the DA will ensure that all South African children emerge from school literate and numerate at internationally benchmarked levels. The state must work in constructive partnership with private enterprise, civil society, teachers and parents to put such a system in place.
Structuring schools for performance
The DA would guarantee a core minimum of resources for each school, we will take steps – including linking schooling to child support grants – to reduce the drop-out rate, and ensure that the school nutrition scheme covers learners all the way through until matric.
In addition to this, the education system must be restructured so that excellence is recognised and valued, and poor performance is rooted out.
Those schools which meet carefully defined criteria relating to their performance will be given more power to manage their own affairs, because experience shows that capable schools work best when they are able to manage matters such as staffing, discipline and timetables themselves.
However, around 60% of South African schools do not currently meet the requirements that would allow them to manage themselves effectively; these schools will be the focus of various initiatives aimed at improving their performance, including training for principals, a review of teacher appointments and management audits.
Finally, bold steps are needed to confront schools that are completely dysfunctional and demand better performance from them. The DA will, among other things, create a dedicated dysfunctional schools task team, implement a mentoring programme and set clear performance targets.
Categories of Schooling
The DA will create a new category of institution known as step-up schools, to inject new vision and energy into poorly performing schools. Any group of individuals meeting certain requirements will to take over the management of a school and to run it as a state school. The school would be rewarded for improved results, but would be closely monitored.
Early childhood education is crucial in preparing children for school. The DA will introduce a per-child pre-school state subsidy, weighted according to parental income and encourage a national network of community-based early childhood education centres.
The DA will place a strong emphasis on ensuring that the requirements of special-needs learners are adequately met. State-provided schooling options will be available for learners with a range of special needs, and we will facilitate the establishment of more remedial classes within schools.
Private schools have made a valuable contribution to South Africa and a growing number serve some of South Africa’s poorest learners. The DA will make private education a realistic alternative for many more parents by reviewing legislation governing their establishment and emphasising results over facilities and resources. This will not, however, in any way reduce the responsibility of the state to ensure that affordable school education is available to every learner.
Funding School Education
The DA will support fee-free schools. But in allocating money, we will use a formula which also measures schools’ performance to give those schools that consistently produce outstanding results an incentive to continue doing so.
To further increase the options available to poor parents, every school will be required to accept a minimum percentage of non fee-paying pupils. In addition, the DA will institute a nation-wide bursary voucher programme aimed at giving the most academically promising 350 000 children from low- income families the opportunity to receive a better school education.
The DA will aim to ensure that, within five years, that South Africa has access to an additional 30 000 teachers a year, and that every child is taught by qualified and committed teacher.
To increase the number of teachers we train, we will work with universities to establish satellite teacher training campuses in remote areas and institute full study bursaries for quality candidates who undertake to teach in specific under-privileged areas for two years. An HIV management programme geared specifically at teachers will stop teachers being lost to HIV/Aids.
It is imperative that teachers are able to properly convey their subject to their learners. Yet many South African teachers cannot do this. The DA will ask all teachers write standardized knowledge assessments in the subjects they teach, and pay increases and promotions will be dependent on passing these tests.
Teachers will also be subject to a system of regular individual performance review – something that is taken fore granted in most other jobs. Performance and skills will become as much an accepted part of a teacher’s pay package as it is for any other professional.
Teacher training is vital, but it must take teachers out of the classroom for as little time as possible. The DA will use onsite coaching by specialised literacy and numeracy consultants and internet-based training programmes to improve in-service training.
Finally, in order to spread the skills of teachers with scarce skills more widely, the DA will introduce the concept of Master Teachers who will teach a single subject that they have particular expertise in at several schools.
Curriculum, Learning and Evaluation
The DA will conduct a detailed review of the new curriculum, with a view to correcting defects with as little disruption as possible. Schools should be able to opt out of the national curriculum if there is a demand for this in the school community, and provided that the proposed curriculum meets certain requirements.
To ensure that problems with are identified before it is too late to solve them, the DA will conduct systemic learner assessments at Grades, 3, 6, 9 and 12. We will also encourage international benchmarking to allow improvements in standards to be monitored over time.
Few South African schools are capable of providing computer literacy education or of using it themselves to help learners and teachers. The DA will set itself the target of ensuring access to information and communications technology, even if limited, in each school, and an email address and Internet access for every pupil, within five years. The DA will also introduce various measures, such as a subsidy for telecommunications costs, to make the internet more accessible to poor schools.
We will place a strong emphasis on making curriculum content available on-line, and providing on-line training and support to teachers.
A decision on which official language to use should be made by the school governing body, in conjunction with the provincial education department to ensure that the decision is sustainable.
Parents will have the right to choose the medium of instruction of their children, provided that the child must be “school-ready” in that language prior to entering Grade 1. All children will be entitled to be taught in the language of their parents’ choice from Grade 5 onwards, subject only to it being reasonably practicable.
We will ensure the development of teaching materials and programmes in all the required languages in schools, and we will make use of public bodies tasked with protecting multi-lingualism to do constant research on changing needs.
The School Environment
A healthy learning environment depends on respect for good order and legitimate authority. The DA will ensure that teachers are able to maintain control in the classroom with a range of measures, including stronger support for the right to expel disruptive learners, a demerit points system for learners, and diversion programmes for youth at risk.
Every child should be able to learn in an environment which is safe and where he or she is not exposed to violence, abuse or drugs. In addition to providing dedicated remedial schools for disruptive learners, the DA will focus on turning schools into community resources, to give the surrounding communities a stake in their wellbeing, and ensure that every police station has a liaison officer for school in that area.